Man with aphasia discusses coronavirus, trouble communicating

Dexter Davis speaks out about his experience during National Aphasia Awareness Month
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 7:55 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - June marks National Aphasia Awareness Month and one man wants you to know how to better communicate with people like him.

After his stroke in February 2019, Dexter Davis had to learn to live with aphasia. According to the National Aphasia Association, Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. For Davis, this means, he knows what he wants to say and what others are saying, but he needs more time to process it all.

Davis said a key part for others to communicate with him is to have patience and talk slowly. “I really appreciate how you speak to me real slow and talk to me slow,” he said. “That’s how I can understand a whole lot better.”

Sherri Winslow, an ECU Clinical Assistant Professor who helps people like Davis with communication, said the coronavirus has not made it easier on them. With masks, they are less able to distinguish facial expressions that can help them understand someone.

“Having that unavailable to them could definitely affect them,” she explained. She also said about 1/3 of stroke patients end up with some type of aphasia.

Davis said talking slowly and loudly, gesturing, and using facial expressions are all helpful. He also said that coronavirus or not, he hopes people can be mindful of those with aphasia. “People don’t know about it,” he explained. “So you have to educate myself and educate other people so that I can communicate better.”

Winslow said more than 2 million people in the United States live with aphasia. One resource to learn more about Aphasia is through the National Aphasia Association at and locally through the ECU Aphasia Support Group at

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